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Mon 4th Aug 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Vanessa Hall – we have seven of our ten planned YO! Sushi openings for 2015 secured and plenty of options: YO! Sushi chief executive Vanessa Hall has reported that the company has seven of its ten planned openings for 2015 secured. In an interview for Propel Quarterly magazine, Hall said: “The strength of the brand, to me, is that it can be a global brand: it’s not just a UK brand, it translates overseas. For YO!, we’ve got three areas (of opportunity): we’ve got the existing business, and how we nurture that and drive that, we’ve got the expansion plans and the brand development in the UK, and we have the international side. For the UK, we have about six million guests a year, it’s a great solid base; awareness of the brand is really high, and it’s how we convert awareness into visits. Once we get someone visiting once, we get more visits. We call them YO! virgins and YO! lovers. So my job at the moment is all about attracting YO! virgins and converting them. That’s how we’ll gain momentum in the UK. We’ve got 70 restaurants at the moment and five more due to open this year. In the pipeline for 2015, we’ve got seven out of the ten we want for next year. The flexibility of YO! is a real positive for us – it means we can go into locations that other restaurants can’t go into. With YO! we can fit into 1,000 sq ft or 1,400 sq ft to 2,400 sq ft, we can have great ventilation or limited ventilation, we can have walls and ceilings or we can have no walls and ceilings, we can go into airports and shopping malls and stations. Internationally, we’ve got the Middle East, where we have seven restaurants now – we opened two more in Dubai this year. We have airport (options), with a site in Oslo, which is our highest-taking YO! and Copenhagen which we opened this year – and we also opened in Oslo train station this year. So there’s a growth plan in the Middle East and there’s a growth plan in international transport. And then we have the US market as well. We’ve got a new franchise deal to do 50 over the next ten years, and hopefully we will open two this year in shopping malls.”

Industry News:

Marston’s, Pieminister, Punch Taverns, Whiting & Hammond, MyLahore, Hache, Pint Shop, Arc Inspirations and Crussh sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: Marston’s, Pieminister, Punch Taverns, Whiting & Hammond, MyLahore, Pint Shop, Arc Inspirations and Crussh are among the latest companies to join the United States’ leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at Propel’s next Multi Site Management Masterclass on Friday 26 September. The cafe bar brand Loungers has booked its 13-strong operations team into the seminar. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality. Now Professor Muller is coming to the UK for the first time to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Shake Shack’s chief executive, Randy Garutti, and a live case study from SSP. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. Among those also booking tickets so far include Spirit Pub Company, Giraffe, Amber Taverns, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Enterprise Inns, Ed’s Easy Diner, Draft House, Castle Rock Brewery, McMullen, Hall & Woodhouse, Bourne Leisure, Beds and Bars, TLC Inns, Dorbiere, Bulldog Hotel Group and Yummy Pub Company. Tickets are £345 plus VAT and £295 plus VAT for ALMR members. To download or view the leaflet as a PDF file please click here www.propelinfo.com/multi-site-management-masterclass-leaflet-sep14.pdf. To book tickets please contact: jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

Propel teams up with accountancy firm haysmacintyre for bench-marking survey: Propel Info is partnering chartered accountant and tax advisors haysmacintyre to undertake the sector’s biggest ever bench-marking survey of pubs, restaurants, bars and foodservice outlets. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We think the results will prove invaluable in allowing sector businesses to understand how they compare to industry averages in key areas of the business. Those companies that take part in the survey will have access to the findings and we believe will help businesses in the market understand the sector better and improve operations.” Companies will be invited to take part in the coming days.

Planning reforms an opportunity to attract wider community to pubs: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed the government’s decision to consult on streamlining the planning system and, in particular, to explore amending the use class categories for pubs. ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “The ALMR has lobbied the government extensively and vigorously on the issue of Use Classes Orders over the past year and welcome this timely consultation. The current Use Classes Orders are hampering hospitality investment, particularly in town centres and high streets. They do not allow for a hybrid type of outlet which is principally food led but also serves alcohol separately, or the fact that many pubs and bars now want and need to widen their appeal to local communities by varying their offer. We would like to see a return to a single A3 class for licensed hospitality to reflect how premises serve different needs from different audiences at different times of the day and evening. We look forward to making our case for reform to enable pubs, clubs and restaurants to invest and thereby benefit local economies and communities across the country.”

London Evening Standard – London’s pubs are moving away from the traditional model: A London Evening Standard columnist has argued that London pubs are turning away from the traditional model – and moving very much upmarket or diversifying with fresh aspects to the offer. Columnist Victoria Stewart wrote: “In London, apart from the few remaining classics, there are two types of taverns, some of which opened this year. First take existing public houses – The Montpelier in Peckham and The Adam & Eve in Clapton are good examples – which in order to stay open have had a recent spruce-up and happily welcomed in new blood via the medium of pop-ups, street-food residencies and film clubs. Second are those that have been completely refurbished and taken over by new owners, adding an upmarket food offering and a consequent in-crowd. In this category sits last year’s Ape & Bird public house run by Russell Norman and Richard Beatty – of Polpo fame. See also this year’s re-opening of The Cat & Mutton pub and cocktail bar in Broadway Market; the brand new Culpeper in Aldgate East, which has an urban farm on its roof; and The Duke’s Head in Highgate, which offers craft beers, ciders, fine wines, whiskies and a salt-beef kitchen takeover”.

Pub owners seek squatter protection: A trade body is calling for a change in the law to give pub owners the same protection against squatters as home owners enjoy. The British Beer and Pub Association is calling for measures introduced two years ago for residential properties, making squatting a criminal offence, to be extended to commercial premises such as pubs, where it is still a civil offence. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “We support tougher action against squatters – they can devalue pub properties and cause neighbour nuisance, often making it harder for properties to be returned to commercial use.”

Record numbers of Brits enjoy a staycation: A survey by Travelodge has found that almost three-quarters of Brits are enjoying a staycation this year, up from 65% last year and 33% in 2010. Cornwall and London are the most popular destinations. Travel industry analyst GFK said last week that summer bookings for overseas holidays were down by 7% in June – the third monthly fall in a row.

Company News:

Jamie Rollo – tenanted pub operators are closing the sales gap with managed: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued that tenanted pub companies are now closing the gap with their managed peers in performance terms. He stated: “Tenanted pub operators are seeing their sales performance gap close with managed pub operators. The latter group (mainly branded operators) saw like-for-like sales slow sharply from circa 4% January to April to circa 0.3% in May and June, partly due to the World Cup and hot weather (generally negative for food-led pubs). Conversely, recent indications are that tenanted and leased pub operators (more exposed to beer volumes, more stable rental income) are continuing to see solid improvements, after five very tough years. We are positive on Enterprise Inns ahead of its IMS, and while we only forecast Third Quarter like-for-like net income of +1.5%, it trades on just 7x P/E, a 17% FCF yield and 0.4x NAV.”

Chilango smashes through £1.5m fund-raising barrier: Chilango, which operates seven Mexican restaurants in London, has smashed through the £1.5m fund-raising barrier on Crowdcube. It’s so-called burrito bond, paying 8% interest, has raised £1,530,000 from 489 investors by last night. The offer now has five days to run but the money raised will fund the opening of three new sites at £500,000 each. A total of 60 investors have invested over £10,000 each and they will receive a Chilango Blackcard, entitling them to one free burrito per week for the life of the bond.

Tom Cobleigh founder re-enters pub trade with opening of Tickled Trout: Derek Mapp, the Derbyshire entrepreneur who founded the Tom Cobleigh pub chain and who is currently High Sheriff of the county, will re-enter the pub trade tomorrow with the re-opening of a freehold pub in his village, The Tickled Trout in Barlow, a former Marston’s pub. The venue will be overseen by Derek’s son Chris Mapp who states: “I have worked in some of the best kitchens in the country and opened my first restaurant in Padstow with my good friend Paul Ainsworth and I thought the time is now right to open a new venture closer to my home. I am determined to give Barlow a pub to be proud of for the village and to draw diners from beyond Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. This is not another gastro pub attempting fine dining but a friendly pub that will be family friendly. Our motto is “Derbyshire pride Italian inspiration”, as we are using excellent Derbyshire produce but served with an Italian twist.” Derek Mapp returned to the hospitality world in 2006 when he backed chef Paul Ainsworth, who had worked for Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing, to open Number 6 in Padstow, Cornwall, which now holds a Michelin star.

Bulldog Hotel Group reports 18.61% like-for-like sales growth in July: Bulldog Hotel Group, the operator of seven coaching inns led by Kevin Charity, has reported 18.61% like-for-like sales growth in July, a record month in sales terms and the third consecutive month of double-digit sales growth. The last week of July saw a company record week with sales of £315,000 net of VAT, an average of £45,000 per site. The company’s newly refurbished Old Bridge Hotel in Holmfirth led the way with net sales for the week of £70,000. Last month, Charity, told the Propel Multi Club Conference that site Ebitda across its seven sites will hit £1,860,000 this year on turnover of £9.7m. Pre-tax profit is set to rise to £751,000, up from £288,000 in 2013. The Ebitda jump comes six years after the company decided to exit the wet-led pub market – it operated 25 pubs at the time – and investment schemes in key sites. Bulldog, which has had 22 consecutive months of like-for-like sales growth, now has 232 bedrooms across its seven sites, six ballrooms and 17 meeting rooms.

Sunday Times – Hugh Osmond in the hunt for Strada: PizzaExpress entrepreneur Hugh Osmond has emerged as a bidder for Strada, according to The Sunday Times. Osmond’s vehicle Sun Capital Partners is one of several private equity houses vying to buy the business, the newspaper has reported. Last December, Osmond re-emerged in the leisure sector when he bought The Great House hotel in Henley-on-Thames. Tragus is selling Strada to concentrate on its Café Rouge and Bella Italia brands – it undertook a Company Voluntary Arrangement in June that won support from its landlords and other creditors. 

Bill’s to follow Loungers into Peterborough: Restaurant brand Bill’s looks set to follow cafe bar concept Loungers with an opening in Peterborough. The company has applied to the city council for a premises licence for the building currently occupied by the Lakeland kitchenware store on Church Street, allowing it to open until midnight and cater for 150 covers. It has also applied for planning permission for new signage on the building – bearing the Bill’s name and the “breakfast, lunch, dinner” ethos. News of the move follows Loungers proposals to open on Bridge Street. If it goes through, Bill’s will be next door to Chimichanga and just a few doors down from Prezzo, PizzaExpress, Wildwood and Nando’s, all overlooking the redeveloped St John’s and Cathedral squares.

JD Wetherspoon eyes first Dublin city centre site, plans 22-bedroom hotel at new site in Huntingdon: JD Wetherspoon is eyeing its first Dublin city centre site, according to The Irish Times. It has set its sights on a 17th century former church where Arthur Guinness was married as the location for its first branch in Dublin city centre. St Mary’s church, on the corner of Mary Street and Jervis Street, was deconsecrated in the 1980s and currently operates as The Church bar and restaurant. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has unveiled plans for an opening in Huntingdon that will include a 22-bedroom hotel. In February, the firm bought the former post office, sorting office and the George Hall just off the ring road in George Street. Now Wetherspoon has submitted plans to Huntingdonshire District Council for converting and linking the two buildings to make way for a pub, capable of serving up to 631 people. The planning documents state: “The application proposes a new extension and a ‘link’ building between George Hall and the old post office and two new beer gardens. The proposed long bar is to be contained within the George Hall whilst the new ‘link’ building and old post office would be used for customer seating. Toilets are to be located on the first floor of the old post office and the existing sorting office will be redeveloped to provide a new 22-room hotel facility.”

Greene King Local Pubs offers service personnel free meal: A total of circa 430 Greene King Local Pubs are inviting service men, women and veterans to enjoy a free meal this week to mark the 100th anniversary since the start of World War One. From 3 to 9 August, serving and retired armed forces personnel will be eligible for a free meal in any one of the sites simply by showing their forces ID or veteran’s badge. A spokesperson for Greene King, said: “This is a very special occasion and while we think of those who risked and lost their lives 100 years ago, we wanted to treat the men and women who are protecting us today or those who have served their duty and have since retired.” Also, between 10pm and 11pm today (4 August), Greene King Local Pubs will be taking part in the Royal Legion’s moment of reflection, Lights Out. The pubs will be turning their lights off and lighting a special centenary candle.

Chef Paul Ainsworth expands with Padstow hotel acquisition: Padstow-based Paul Ainsworth, who runs the Michelin-starred restaurant Number 6 as well as the Italian restaurant Rojano’s in the Square in the Cornish town, with his wife Emma, is to open his first hotel in Padstow. They have acquired the former Tregea Hotel and it will re-open early in 2015 as the Padstow Townhouse. The hotel’s current eight bedrooms will be remodelled to create six high-end rooms. Paul Ainsworth said: “We have been keeping an eye out for a suitable property for some time and are very excited to have found what we are looking for. The building is just a few streets back from the hustle and bustle and a minute’s walk from our restaurant, Number 6. It’s early days but our initial plans are to produce six stunning boutique en suite bedrooms with every luxury amenity that you can think of. We want to take what we do at Number 6, the level of service and attention to detail, and extend that to our rooms.”

Sainsbury’s to re-open site with Starbucks store: Sainsbury’s is refurbishing its Beaconsfield site, re-opening it in November with the addition of a Starbucks. There will also be an overhaul of the shops interior with a new in-store bakery and pharmacy to be included. Sainsbury’s project manager Dave Gilderdale said: “We have been keen to create a much more modern and attractive store in Beaconsfield for some time and are delighted to now be able to start work to offer customers a revamped store. The store updates feature a new bakery, fresh food counters and pharmacy together with a new Starbucks and Explore Learning.”

Horsham mourns the loss of McDonald’s like a dead relative: The foodservice blog Munchies has reported that the people of West Sussex market town Horsham have been mourning the closure of McDonald’s in the town centre last weekend after 25 years like the loss of a close relative. The blog stated: “This Sussex market town (and, by proxy, us) should consider the benefits of no longer having a McDonald’s in the area, but the people of Horsham are far less predictable than that. On Wednesday morning, a card and bouquet of flowers appeared at the base of the defunct restaurant. As first reported by The West Sussex Gazette, the card reads: “You were there for me when I needed you most and now I’m here for you. You stood high above the rest with golden arches. You were the king of fast food, but to me you’re my queen. Lots of love, Callum, Sam + Jonny. XXX.” A video entitled “End of Horsham’s McDonald’s” (on The West Sussex County Times website) serves as a fitting dirge to their branch. It’s miserable. There’s no voiceover, no information, nothing but the deafening silence of unused deep-fat fryers and faded childhood laughter. There will be no more McFlurries here. The walls will never again be adorned with advertisements for seasonally approved, relevantly themed burgers. Future generations have been robbed of a crucial bedrock of contemporary existence. Callum, Sam, and Jonny called McDonald’s their Queen, and just as a person grieves for their dead spouse, trying but incapable of ever truly moving on, Horsham is doomed to trundle forward, forever emptier, lonelier, and, maybe, healthier.”

La Tasca to roll-out Bar de Sangria: La Tasca will roll-out “Bar de Sangria” across the majority of its estate during August. The Sangria bars will feature a selection of 15 different sangrias from the Favoritos and Clasico menu sections. Chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “After a successful trial we are launching our Bar de Sangria concept into the majority of the La Tasca estate alongside our Bodegas Wine Bars & Cava Bars. Trade is very buoyant with our new La Tasca & Rioja Bar in Leadenhall trading ahead of expectations for this time of year. We are at legals on a new shell site at the refurbished NIA in Birmingham and hope to announce a further major acquisition shortly. Next month we will launch a radical new improved menu in La Tasca, the first major change since we switched from 85% frozen food to fresh food in October 2012. Our La Vina & Bellota sites successfully launched a new menu last week which has had amazing guest feedback.” 

JD Wetherspoon non-executive joins Flybe board: Flybe has appointed JD Wetherspoon non-executive director Liz McMeikan as a non-executive director. McMeikan is senior independent director at Wetherspoon and chairs the remuneration committee at Unite Group. She is also a non-executive director at Fresca Group, a £365 million private business, and chairman of the Moat Housing Association. She spent her early career at Colgate-Palmolive and then at Tesco, establishing Tesco Express and being appointed stores board director for change management and human resources. She will chair the Exeter-based airline’s remuneration committee, taking over from David Longbottom, who is to retire as a non-executive director at the end of August after nearly nine years on the board.

Westbury Street Holdings buys Searcys: Westbury Street Holdings (WSH) has acquired Searcys for an undisclosed sum. Searcys was put on the market last November with a price tag of £25m to £30m. WSH has bought up the business in its entirety despite speculation in February that the company may be broken up in a bid to attract buyers. Managing director Chris Maddison, who stepped up to the role in April after his predecessor Doug Tetley left to head up Delaware North’s UK operations, will stay on in his role after the transition to WSH while chairman Richard Tear is understood to be taking retirement.

China meat scandal hits McDonald’s in Japan: McDonald’s Holdings Co (Japan) withdrew its earnings guidance for the year last week and said it was working on a contingency plan after its major meat supplier in China was shut down by regulators for food safety breaches. It also said it would consider seeking damages from the supplier. The Japanese unit of the chain immediately switched to alternative chicken supplies both in China and Thailand after the scandal broke. But days later it narrowed its sourcing to two existing suppliers in Thailand due to Japanese consumers’ widespread distrust of food originating in China. It also said it was considering sourcing some meat from Brazil. Chief executive Sarah Casanova said that while its Thai suppliers had enough capacity to handle Japanese demand, the company needed a contingency plan.

Frankie & Benny’s set for Keighley: The Restaurant Group’s Frankie & Benny’s brand is set to open in central Keighley. The brand has been announced for one of the units in the planned Worth Valley Shopping Centre in East Parade. Frankie & Benny’s is the second major company to put its name to the shopping centre, following a 2012 announcement that Cineworld will operate an eight-screen cinema. The £30 million shopping centre – which received planning permission in spring 2012 – is expected to house several major retail chains in 14 units between Cavendish Street and Worth Way.

Lord Rogers – restaurant plan in Bloomsbury will spoil a Modernist masterpiece: Bloomsbury’s Modernist masterpiece the Brunswick Centre is in danger of being permanently disfigured by a bid to build a new restaurant on its second floor, world-renowned architect Lord Richard Rogers has argued. The architect, whose works include the Millennium Dome and the Pompidou Centre, was reacting to newly revealed plans by owners LaSalle Investment Management to create a glass-fronted box on the second floor above the entrance to the Renoir Cinema. Overlooking Brunswick Square, it would be used for dining – and irrevocably change how the 1960s-designed landmark would look, according to architects and residents hoping to block the plans. Lord Rogers said: “Building a restaurant in the middle of the Brunswick Portico will do great harm to one of the greatest modern buildings in Britain. It is regarded as one of the ‘few genuinely sublime architectural sights of London’. The scale of the portico and the way that it introduces transparency into what is otherwise a solid, sculptural building is breathtaking. Putting a restaurant in the middle of the portico wedged between the cinema and the flats will do great harm to the building and the wonderful piazza below.”

Notes opens third central London site: Notes, the speciality coffee, food and wine company, has opened its third site in central London. The chain, which is co-owned by Robert Robinson and Edward Halfon, has expanded to the 1,200 sq ft site at the bottom of the City Point office complex. Edward Halfon, director of Notes, said: “We were looking for a permanent home site in the City Point area as we have been trading successfully there via our mobile coffee station. Being able to establish premises in this area of London is fantastic progress for us as a brand.” The coffee shop chain has sites across London, with two located in Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square and another in Kings Cross. It opened its own roastery in August last year. Leisure property agent Shelley Sandzer secured the site for the growing brand.

Fitch affirms Whitbread’s BBB rating: Fitch Ratings has affirmed Whitbread’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) at ‘BBB’. The short-term IDR has been affirmed at ‘F2’. The affirmation reflects Whitbread’s strong financial performance demonstrated by double-digit revenue growth over the past few years, stable profitability and adequate credit metrics for its rating despite the burden of high pension contributions. It also reflects Fitch’s expectation that the company’s operating performance will remain positive over the next 12-24 months, with the now improving UK economic environment and pressure on average room rates abating. Fitch expects Whitbread’s credit metrics to remain steady, due to the group’s expansion strategy, limiting the group’s free cash flow (FCF) and hence de-leveraging flexibility. Fitch forecasts Whitbread’s leverage (on a lease and pension adjusted net debt/EBITDARP basis) to remain below 3.5x in 2014/15, and comfortably within the guideline for a ‘BBB’ rating.

Healthy eating restaurant opens second site: A healthy eating restaurant business inspired by the weight battles of its owner has opened its second outlet, in Victoria Square Shopping Centre. Slim’s Healthy Kitchen founder Gary McIldowney has now opened the express version of his successful Lisburn Road eatery opened earlier this month. The new 900 square foot premises employs 20 full and part-time staff after an investment of £200,000. In total – and including a meal plan operation – Slim’s employs 70 staff and plans to open more outlets later this year. McIldowney’s meal plan operation delivers healthy, balanced meals to the time-poor who are anxious to maintain a svelte physique. He said he picked up the nickname ‘Slim’ after slimming down from 24 stone to 15 stone through exercise and healthy eating.

Fight to save Brighton pub survives legal challenge: The Rose Hill Tavern has survived a challenge from its new owners who wanted the council to strip it of its special protection, Brighton and Hove News has reported. The pub was sold by Enterprise Inns earlier this year, and regulars afraid it would be turned into homes persuaded the council to make it an asset of community value (ACV). This means the community has six months to put together a bid to buy the pub, and a Rose Hill Tavern Action Group has been set up to raise £350,000 plus VAT to buy the property. The new owners, a private property development company, wrote to the council protesting that at least 30 names on the ACV signatories list belonged to people not registered to vote in Brighton. But last week the council said the ACV should stay as the action group did have the required number of members on the register.

Maclay Group – “we’re emerging from a transitional period”: Pub and hotel operator Maclay Group has reported a pre-tax loss of £199,819 for the 16-months to 1 February 2014.The Alloa-based group, which has filed consolidated accounts with Companies House for a 16-month reporting period, said operating profits dipped 15% to £604,616 against £718,302 for the 12-month 2012 financial year. The group said the pre-tax loss for the 16-months compares with a pre-tax loss of £737,379 booked for the 2012 year, which had included a property impairment charge of £679,654. Turnover rose to £13.52 million for the 16 months against £10.43 million reported for 2012. Maclay Group said the results reflect a “transitional period for the group” which had seen several pubs within its estate close for refurbishment. Steve Mallon, managing director of Maclay Group, told The Daily Record: “During this period we embarked on a major investment programme spending over £1 million to refurbish three key venues. This meant extended periods of closure for The Tullie Inn, Balloch, The Southsider in Edinburgh and The West Port Hotel, Linlithgow. As a result, sales at these venues were down in the short term, but since re-opening all three have exceeded our expectations. This year we will continue to invest in some of our other premises as well as in the development of our staff. These investment projects have helped ready our portfolio to capitalise on a very busy and vibrant 2014 season. Recent results, related to the start of summer and the Commonwealth Games activity, are very encouraging and we’re optimistic about the forthcoming Edinburgh Festivals and Ryder Cup events.” Maclay Group operates 26 pubs across Scotland and employs around 540 people.

Sagar + Wilde to open second site: Husband and wife duo Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde are to open a second Sagar + Wilde wine bar under the railway arches in Bethnal Green. Named after the first grape ever planted in California, the 60-seater Mission will shine a light on Californian wine. The pair have teamed up with Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman of Domaine de la Cote in the Santa Rita Hills to produce a Sager + Wilde own label Pinot Noir, which will be on pour by the glass and bottle at the bar. Head chef James De Jong, formerly of The Drapers Arms in Islington, will be serving Californian dishes with an Italian influence. Sager + Wilde opened its first site in Hoxton last August. 

Crowdcube lists international expansion targets: Crowd-funding website Crowdcube will use its newly-raised £5m of additional finance to explore expansion in Brazil, Italy, Poland, New Zealand and Dubai. “There are probably three (of these) on the list of potential places that we’re looking at moving into in the next 12 to 18 months,” founder Luke Lang told Inside Media. Crowdcube is already established in Sweden and Spain, where it set up operations in June. Lang also said that the company has ambitions to expand in to Germany and France. “The US is not on the list at the moment but we’re constantly keeping a close eye on what’s happening out there,” Lang added. “Although they’re reshaping their rules and regulations, it is taking longer than people had hoped.” Lang was speaking to Insider Media following the company’s successful funding round, which concluded ten days ago in a record time of 16 minutes. 

360 Champagne and Cocktails opens in Glasgow: The 360 Champagne and Cocktails chain has opened a new site on the first floor of the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in Glasgow. Managing director Craig Ince said: “Buchanan Galleries is a fantastic location and perfect to showcase a little bit of luxury to Glasgow shoppers at affordable prices. 360 Champagne and Cocktails has gone from strength to strength expanding throughout the UK. I can’t think of a better, more exciting place for our first city centre location.” 360 Champagne and Cocktails opened its first venue in Manchester Trafford Centre two years ago, and other locations now include Newcastle, Leeds and Essex.

Darren Ferguson’s award-winning Wicked Witch closes: The award-winning Wicked Witch in Ryhall, Rutland, has closed. A post on the restaurant’s website said: “It is with great sadness to announce that we have closed for business. We would therefore like to thank all of our customers who have been fantastic for the duration.” The Wicked Witch was one of the winners in the best dining pub category of last year’s East Midlands Food and Drink Awards. The restaurant was given a two fork and spoon classification in the 2014 Michelin guide. The restaurant opened in February 2012 with Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson as one of four owners. It is understood he is no longer involved. The restaurant was formerly The Millstone pub.

Cardiff restaurant re-brands to join barbecue trend: Former tapas restaurant Pica Pica on Cardiff’s Westgate Street has rebranded to become Feather & Bone – a stripped back bar and grill, boasting a menu jam packed with hearty Southern staples. Slow and low ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, buffalo wings and creamed corn are all on the menu with all sauces and sides homemade on the premises. Owner and chef Dave Griffiths said: “We had a great run with Pica Pica and it had become a well-respected name on the Cardiff food scene but a change is as good as a rest and with the rise in popularity of BBQ style cooking as a dining out option, we thought we’d go for it and try something new.”

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